Silicon Valley geography

Video clarifying Silicon Valley vs San Francisco

This video is pretty good overall, though it misses some areas which are part of Silicon Valley, mispronounces the names of many areas, and refers to Gordon Moore as George Moore. Despite some errors, it’s entertaining and brief, and I think newcomers will find it helpful as an intro to the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley regions of California.

Silicon Valley homes for sale

Graphic image of a magnifierIf you are searching for Silicon Valley real estate, or Silicon Valley homes for sale, you may discover that you get overwhelmed with choices and housing results.

The biggest problem is that the area is simply enormous.  Most agree that Silicon Valley is an area covering Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, part of Santa Cruz County (Scotts Valley) and part of Alameda County (Fremont – and some also add Union City and Newark). It’s a lot of territory – 1,854 square miles.  As of last year, this much territory was home to between just over 3 million people.

So if you are in house hunting mode, the very first thing you need to do is to understand your anchor point. The anchor point is the thing which you want to be near. For most people, that’s a work location (and in many cases, it may be 2 work locations). Sometimes it’s proximity to family members, a place of worship, a particular school or any number of things.  Most of the time, the main anchor point is the place of employment and desired commute time, tempered by things like good schools, shopping, parks, things to do, and quality of life.

Narrowing the home search geographically

Moving here to work in Scotts Valley?  Much of Santa Cruz County may work – but so could living in Los Gatos, Campbell or nearby, where you’d have a reverse commute.

Relocating for a job in Mountain View?  Most likely, you’ll eliminate Santa Cruz County due to distance and commute challenges with Highway 17 going over the Santa Cruz Mountains.

If good public schools matter, that will help to refine your search, as not all parts of the southern San Francisco Bay Area have equally good education.

Below I’ll post sample listings from communities noted for better public schools in Santa Clara County up to 1.2 million, which seems to be a very hot price point that many relocating home buyers can afford. I do also serve San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties, but most of my clients are looking at Santa Clara Co., so limiting this search here.  Unfortunately, Alameda County (Fremont, Union City, and Newark are there) has a totally different MLS so usually I don’t work there – but am happy to introduce you to a great Realtor who does (please just email me and I will connect  you).

Santa Clara County homes for sale with good schools up to $1,200,000

Palo Alto

Sorry, but we couldn't find any results in the MLS that match the specified search criteria.

Los Altos

  1. 1 bed, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,047 sq ft

See all Real estate in the city of Los Altos.
(all data current as of 12/11/2017)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

Cupertino

  1. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,249 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,232 sqft
  2. 1 bed, 1 bath
    Home size: 640 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.14 ac

See all Real estate in the city of Cupertino.
(all data current as of 12/11/2017)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

Saratoga

  1. 1 bed, 1 bath
    Home size: 768 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,280 sqft
  2. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 948 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,319 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of Saratoga.
(all data current as of 12/11/2017)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

Los Gatos

  1. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,668 sq ft
    Lot size: 818 sqft
  2. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 935 sq ft
    Lot size: 2.95 ac
  3. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,105 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.39 ac
  4. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,200 sq ft
    Lot size: 36,024 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,039 sq ft
    Lot size: 3.32 ac

See all Real estate in the city of Los Gatos.
(all data current as of 12/11/2017)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

Milpitas

  1. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,464 sq ft
    Lot size: 792 sqft
  2. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,516 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,921 sqft
  3. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,530 sq ft
    Lot size: 540 sqft
  4. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,833 sq ft
    Lot size: 4,295 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 1,068 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,998 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of Milpitas.
(all data current as of 12/11/2017)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

Almaden area of San Jose

  1. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 833 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.32 ac

See all Real estate in the Almaden Valley community.
(all data current as of 12/11/2017)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

Want more areas? Please search below, or use the widget in the sidebar.

Lost in Silicon Valley? A few geographical markers to help you out.

It’s so easy to get lost when you’re new to an area and don’t know what’s where!  Luckily, the San Francisco Bay Area is rich in large landmarks such as the Bay, the coastal range and the east foothills.  At first, the mountains might seem like they all look the same.  But if you know what to look for, you’ll soon get your bearings – assuming that it’s daytime and the weather is cooperative!

Here are my Silicon Valley landmarks and mental tricks or visioning – the ones I use to know where I am or where I am going.  First, imagine that the Santa Clara Valley is a bit like a funnel with mountains that narrow at the bottom on two sides and the San Francisco Bay on top.  OK, it’s not quite straight, but it’s not a bad analogy otherwise.  Next, consider how to tell the two sets of hills apart.  The ones closest to the ocean, the Santa Cruz Mountains (aka the coastal range) are full of redwood trees and another conifers and they stay green year round.  These hills are nearly always a deep, dark green or blue-green.  The eastern foothills, on the other hand, are mostly grassy but dotted with oak tree clusters in the nooks and crannies of the hills where the rain catches.  Those hills are a bright, lighter green in winter (when it rains!) but for much of summer and fall they are blanketed with a yellow-gold grass.

Silicon Valley geographical landmarks

 

Now that you have the basic East – West (or actually South to Soutwest, depending) direction sorted out, it’s time to learn what to look for in each of the mountains to get your location sorted out a little better.  Fortunately, each of them has a large structure perched on a high peak, so as long as the weather is clear and it’s daytime, they tend to stand out from almost anywhere in Santa Clara County.

Mt. Hamilton & the Lick Observatory

On the east side, if you scan the crest, you will see a white blip or two.  That is the Lick Observatory at Mount Hamilton.

Mount Hamilton - the Lick Observatory

 

Here’s a closer view (aerial):

Mount Hamilton closeup

Mt. Umunhum

On the southwest side, in the Almaden Valley area of San Jose, we have Mount Umunhum (which I’ve blogged about previously on my SanJoseRealEstateLosGatosHomes.com site – see http://sanjoserealestatelosgatoshomes.com/tag/mt-umunhum/ ).  It looks like a big, white box sitting on a flat part of the mountaintop.

Mt Umunhum from the Country Club area of Almaden

 

Sometimes all you see is a little snippet of it poking out over some other hill – this is especially true if you are far north of it.

Almaden - Mt Umunhum

 

And here’s an aerial view of it from the Santa Cruz side of “the hill”:

Mount Umunhum - aerial view from Santa Cruz side

 

If you are too far north, you will not see it at all – but if you can see it, you are likely to be fairly close by, on the southern end of Silicon Valley (unless you’re in Los Gatos, Monte Sereno or nearby and another hill is obscuring the view).

My next, and last, tip is to look for “the pass” for highway 17 from Los Gatos and running through the Santa Cruz Mountains.  This is easier to spot than you might think – just remember that any mountain pass is going to come in a natural gap of some kind and in a low point on the hills.  That happens here, too.  The image below was taken from a medical center’s parking garage on Samaritan Drive in San Jose, just on the Los Gatos border.  That low point where you see two hills going way down – that’s it, that’s the pass.  And that’s where you’ll find downtown Los Gatos (or very close to it).

Los Gatos panorama toward the Santa Cruz Mountains

 

Almaden would be to the left of this, by the way – but visible from this spot.

If you can find at least 2 of these landmarks – Mount Hamilton, Mount Umunhum, or the Santa Cruz Mountains pass at Los Gatos, you can likely figure out your approximate location.  Hope this helps!

Mary Pope-Handy
Realtor,
CIPS, CRS, ABR, SRES
Sereno Group
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd.
Los Gatos CA 95030
[Silicon Valley, California, USA]
1-408-204-7673
mary (at) popehandy.com
CA BRE # 01153805

CIPS - Certified International Property Specialist
CRS - Certified Residential Specialist
ABR - Accredited Buyer Representative
SRES - Seniors Real Estate Specialist

Helping nice folks to buy and sell homes in Silicon Valley since 1993. Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor, Silicon Valley
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Listings by Price Range
Below please find a list of SOME of the popular Silicon Valley areas with listings offered by price range. This is not a complete list! Please use the "search" app to find ALL properties on the MLS.
Trends & Statistics

Click the link below to get real estate data for Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Santa Cruz County (together making up about 98% of "Silicon Valley").

Real Estate Market Statistics and Trends for Santa Clara County


Comps near any address in Santa Clara County
Listings and Sales Near Any Address in Santa Clara County

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